Talking to VFI members about drink driving in East Cork

One of the topics of conversation featured on Today with Sean O’Rourke, RTE Radio One show on Monday, July 17th was about the proposed bill on drink driving.

New laws would automatically impose a three-month ban on drivers found with 51-80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The proposed bill has yet to be passed and reporter Brian O’Connell set out to see what impact this new legislation would have on rural pubs, publicans and locals.

Brian paid a visit to two VFI members’ pubs in Ballycotton, located in East Cork, about 40 minutes drive from Cork City.  The first stop was to Mike O’Shea’s Schooner Tavern and then on to McGrath’s pub, where he spoke to Sean Mc Grath who is 31 years serving his local community. Sean spoke about the current difficulties he is facing running a pub in a rural village and affect the proposed legislation would have on his business.

At 75 years of age Sean has seen a lot of changes in the bar business and felt very fearful of the future of the pub in rural Ireland particularly if these strict drink driving measures were to come into effect:

I fail to see the reason for it the current drink driving legislation, if It were enforced in my estimation is totally adequate for what is required, most people are educated enough not to go driving after having a lot of drink.

Speaking about the direct impact these new laws would have on his pub, Sean said:

If this comes in, I’m now 75 years of age, I should hand over my business to one of family but they wouldn’t make a living here anymore.

Locals who live a few miles radius of the village spoke about the important role the pub plays in the local community and how it is a central meeting point for colleagues, friends and family.

I think the big problem for people in rural Ireland is the sense of isolation, a pub is now providing a service that a post office or shop once did where its facilities are closed down, a pub is a center of where people go to.

One local lady highlighted concerns regarding transport in rural areas:

I do see the case in rural Ireland where you have maybe people living on their own, 2 or 3 miles away from the pub, we don’t have the facilities of taxis like they do in the city.

Many of the locals Brian spoke to pointed out that enforcement of existing legislation is something of an issue and current laws in place at the moment should be better enforced. On the back of this one local said:

I’m 57 years old, I was only breathalysed once in my life, outside Heuston Station in Dublin and that’s a far distance from Ballycotton.

To listen the full interview from the Sean O’Rourke show CLICK HERE